Maui is one of the most desirable vacation destinations in the United States, year after year. These are the best places to visit in Maui for first-time visitors.
Did we miss any incredible Maui destinations that you should add to your island itinerary? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!
Best Maui Tours (to Maximize Your Time!)
If you’re looking for something more organized when on Maui, here are some awesome Maui tours you should check out.
These tours will help you maximize your time, which is especially important if you only have a short amount of time on the island! We listed a variety so that you can pick which one is most suitable for you (and many include multiple places!):
Molokini and Turtle Town snorkeling trip (#1 Maui bestseller!)
Sunset cruise from Kaanapali (has an open bar!)
Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton in Kaanapali (top-rated luau!)
Small group Road to Hana trip (much better than driving!)
Haleakala sunrise tour (with breakfast!)
Best Places to Visit in Maui
This small, quaint town on the northern shores of Maui is a must when you’re visiting. If you are looking for the best things to do in Maui, Paia has a lot of them!
Once known as a center for the hippie counterculture, Pa’ia is now one of the most popular destinations in the country for those who enjoy windsurfing and artsy vibes.
With all the newcomers who started living in the town, it is now home to plenty of delicious eateries and shops that aren’t as expensive as those in neighboring towns.
There are tons of options for places to eat, including Pa’ia Fish Market, Kuau Store, Flatbread Company, and Cafe de Amis. Another popular spot is Mama’s Fish House, which is located right on the outskirts of town and includes many of Maui’s best dishes.
You can also check out the shops where you can purchase island-themed beachwear and other gifts. The beaches are unmatched and the perfect spots for surfing and beautiful views.
Baldwin Beach Park is ideal if you’re visiting with family and looking for blue, clear water or Ho’okipa Beach to check out the turtles.
On Maui’s west side is Lahaina, a historic town that has been transformed into an art lover’s dream.
It was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and once a whaling village. In fact, the town was the site where sailors went on vacation, which was the topic of the world-famous book Moby Dick.
If you’re interested in the history of the town, be sure to check out Front Street, which is one of the Top Ten Greatest Streets in the US according to the American Planning Association.
There are historical shops, including the Lahaina Prison, Pioneer Inn, and U.S. Seamen’s Hospital, as well as 55 acres of historic districts. However, it’s also a great spot for entertainment and other top things to do in Lahaina.
Check out the beaches, fine dining, and the Ulalena at the Maui Theater to get a taste of Hawaiian culture. If you visit in the winter, be sure to go on the whale watching tour at Lahaina Harbor.
The peaceful and isolated town of Hana is located on Maui’s eastern shore. Hana is home to stunning seascapes, waterfalls, rainforests, and pools.
It’s not easy to travel here because of the one-lane bridges and sharp turns, so be sure to drive safely.
Once you arrive in Hana, be sure to visit the historic St. Sophia’s Church, check out the souvenirs at Hasegawa General Store and Hana Ranch Store, and sunbathe at the town’s multiple beaches.
Get a reservation to check out Waianapanapa State Park, which is known for its black sand.
The state’s largest Hawaiian temple, the Hale Piilani, is also not to be missed. If you are looking for somewhere to stay, the Hana-Maui Resort is full of Hawaiian traditions and culture.
Known as one of the most-visited beaches in Maui, you won’t be surprised that tourists love Napili Beach when you see the gorgeous turquoise water and white sand.
And, there are plenty of things to do in Napili away from the water!
It’s extremely busy, especially in the summer, but the beach is certainly not something to miss. The beach is popular for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, and because of the outer reefs, the waves are rather calm.
The Sea House Restaurant is also a great spot to eat at, not only because of the delicious food, but because you’ll get views of the entire beach.
You’ll also be able to check out the tropical fish and sunset views. If you’re there in the right season, you can also go whale watching.
Right outside of town, don’t forget to book a tour with HeleWai Eco-Tours’ Honolua Ridgeline Hike: A Conservation Experience to visit the remotest locations and native forests on the island.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Get away from Maui’s gorgeous seaside and experience one-of-a-kind lavender vibes at the mystical Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, home to 45 varieties of lavender and approximately 55,000 lavender plants.
Stroll around the serene gardens and discover the secrets of lavender cultivation while taking in the breathtaking views of the Pacific along the way.
You will even get a chance to take some lavender-infused items with you from the onsite boutique.
Don’t miss taking part in the following exciting events organized throughout the year such as the Gourmet Picnic Lunches, Craft Classes, Guided Card Tours, and even Lavender Treasure Hunts.
Not many people travel to Maui to head to a lavender farm, but this is a fantastic place to visit that will offer something different in between the beaches and excursions.
Kula Botanical Garden
Once serving as an ordinary plant reserve, Kula Botanical Garden has now become one of Maui’s most popular tourist destinations for rejuvenation.
This piece of paradise, nestled on the Haleakalā slopes, is home to Maui’s native flora that blossoms on fertile, rich volcanic soil.
Spanning over 8 acres of land, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of exotic plants and tropical flowers that you won’t find anywhere else. It also houses a bird sanctuary with endangered native Hawaiian Nene birds.
This peaceful area also offers a gazebo, covered bridge, and picnic area for visitors who want to stay longer and enjoy a scenic yet relaxing day.
Molokini Crater is a true heaven on Earth for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts.
This uninhabited natural crescent is a Marine Life Conservation District home to more than 250 species of vibrant marine life.
This partially submerged volcanic crater is far from sandy surroundings, making it one of Maui’s most fantastic snorkeling spots with near-perfect visibility.
There are plenty of boat tours to Molokini, but for a one-of-a-kind experience, you should take an outrigger canoe and kayak tour. If you are not into snorkeling, just visit to admire the picture-perfect scenery of one of the world’s rarest islets!
Kahakuloa Head is an essential stop when driving on Kahekili Highway. From the lookout point, you’ll witness a 646-foot-high gorgeous peak covered in rocks and silky greenery jutting out from the vast blue waters.
Iconic Kahakuloa Head has a bit of history behind it, and legend has it that it was once a favorite cliff-diving spot of one of Maui’s leaders, King Kahekili.
Please note, Kahekili Highway is a narrow road that hugs the cliffs of the sea, making it one of the most dangerous roads on Maui. Not many people risk it, so you may have the vistas uncrowded and if lucky, you’ll have it all to yourself!
Pua’a Ka’a Waterfalls
If you want to go hiking on your trip to Maui, don’t forget to visit Pua’a Ka’a Falls Trail, where you will get to experience the stunning waterfall and gorgeous views.
Located near Hana, the best part of this trail is that it’s perfect for all skill levels, so you don’t need to worry about being an experienced hiker.
It also does not experience much traffic, and you can even bring a furry friend with you as long as they’re on a leash.
In addition to the waterfalls, you can go bird watching and even visit year-round. The trail to the waterfalls is only 0.4 miles, so it’s not a long trip at all making it perfect for the whole family.
Hana Lava Tube
If you’re after a one-of-a-kind experience, then Hana Lava Tube along the Road to Hana is a must-see.
This subterranean tunnel is the largest in Maui and was formed as a result of thick layers of molten lava erupting from beneath the earth.
The outside layer hardened as the inner layer flowed beneath it for 2 years, forming a cylindrical tube of lava that allows you to walk inside and descend further to explore unique formations, such as the chocolate corridor of stalactites, a’a lava, cow bones, and more.
Just beware that even though the rocks have hardened for about 900 years, they can still be very fragile.
Kihei is a true paradise that will amaze you with its ten stunning golden sandy beaches (and many things to do)!
Soak up its laid-back vibes while sunbathing on picture-perfect beaches, drinking, dancing, and embracing the vibrant nightlife in one of Maui’s hottest tourist destinations.
People who are on a budget can enjoy a real price break from West Maui’s pricy resorts by choosing one of Kihei’s many condo rentals and hotel alternatives.
Water junkies can also try snorkeling, diving, boogie boarding, paddling, surfing, or simply swimming in crystal clear waters to escape the incessant Kihei heat.
Haleakala National Park
Home to one of the world’s largest dormant volcano craters, Haleakala National Park will take your breath away with its desert-like landscape and jaw-dropping sunrises from the soaring summit of Mt. Haleakala at an elevation of 10,000 feet.
Take a dip in the freshwater Pools of Ohe’o or go bird-watching while hiking at Hosmer Grove.
For taking in the stunning scenery of far-off coastlines, take to the popular Pipiwai Trail, which will lead you past the bamboo forest toward the breathtaking Waimoku Falls.
Visit the top of Haleakala Crater and learn more about the island’s rich history by taking part in full-day guided tours of Haleakala National Park and Central Maui.
Iao Valley State Monument
If you’re keen to experience the real potential of Maui’s natural wonders, then Iao Valley State Monument is the place to go!
As a renowned Maui cultural landmark, this tranquil paradise was once believed to serve as a sacred spot where ancient Hawaiian demigods resided. In 1790, this place also witnessed one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history.
The 4,000 acres of land is home to gardens, walking paths, and most importantly, the famous Iao Needle, Pali Ele’ele, and more.
Reconnect with nature by wandering in a lush valley, hiking on the Iao Needle Lookout Trail and the Ethnobotanical Loop, swimming under waterfalls, or simply having a picnic or BBQ amidst verdant foliage.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Ho’okipa Beach Park is another must-visit beach for water junkies. It is one of Maui’s most famous beaches for windsurfing, professional surfing, and snorkeling, thanks to its stunning reef system and giant swells.
Hawaiian green sea turtles are frequent visitors to the area, so be sure not to miss these lovely creatures (but please be respectful of them).
Before heading to the beach from the parking lot, snap the perfect pic of the North Shore Maui coastline and beautiful reef formations from the top.
After a day in the water, head to nearby Mama’s Fish House to taste the mouth-watering fish tacos and lobster tails.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park is probably the most Instagrammable place on this list with its crystal-clear waters, dramatic black basalt lava coastline, and silky green valleys.
Over 120 acres of land is home to trail loops, a blowhole, lava tube, sea arches, freshwater caves, and the fascinating Pa’iloa Bay made of jet-black sand.
The Maui state park also offers a few amenities to get the most out of your visit, such as restrooms, showers, a large parking lot, a picnic and BBQ area, and even cabins for rent.
Thrill-seekers can go cliff jumping, hiking on King’s Trail, taking a dip in anchialine pools, and camping under the starry sky for an unforgettable experience in Wai’anapanapa State Park.
This is a Hawaii state park that requires reservations. Please be sure to make them here.
Once named the best beach in the United States, Ka’anapali Beach must not be missed during your visit to Maui (it is in Lahaina). It’s located on the west shore and has three miles of white sand and gorgeous turquoise waters.
Once upon a time, the beach was known as a retreat for Hawaiian royals, and now it is a sought-out resort for people all over the world.
Every day at sunset, Maui’s King Kahekili’s feat is reenacted on the beach’s northern cliffs, which involves lighting torches and diving off the cliff. Daredevils should also check out the zipline tour to get all-around views of the stunning coasts.
You can also check out the condo villages and resorts, the Whalers Village shopping complex, whaling museum, and golf courses.
Meaning “the Water of Lea,” named after the goddess of canoe makers, Wailea Beach is another stunning spot that you and your family should check out during your visit to Maui.
Unfortunately, it does get quite crowded due to the resort, but the beach is not something to miss.
Aside from the stunning and calm blue waters, there are rocky cliffs surrounding the ends of the beach for unique views.
Popular activities include boogie boarding, body surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. If you visit in the winter, be sure to keep an eye out for whales.
Hawaii has a handful of breathtaking natural wonders, among which you’ll find the Nakalele Blowhole.
This hidden gem is nestled on Maui’s eastern edge and will take your breath away with a stunning show of seawater that blasts up to 100 feet.
The best time to visit the Nakalele Blowhole is on stormy days if you want to witness the powerful blast when the tide and surf mix to put on a real show!
The path to the lookout point can be quite challenging since the trail is quite steep and rocky, but the final views are well worth the effort.
Just note that you shouldn’t get too close to any of the blowholes in Hawaii for your own safety.
Makena Beach and Makena Cove
Makena Beach is the perfect option for getting away from the crowded Wailea beaches and discovering Maui’s true undeveloped beauty.
Since the water is quite choppy here, it is not recommended to go swimming; instead, you can try bodysurfing, skimboarding, or simply taking a stroll along the picture-perfect Maui beach while admiring the amazing vistas of Kahoolawe and Molokini islands.
Makena Cove, tucked away between houses and a rock wall, lies nearby.
Its dramatic scenery and nonexistent crowds have made it become a popular destination for adventurers looking to explore the area, relax, and unwind.
What are your favorite places to visit in Maui? Let us know your beloved Maui bucket list destinations in the comments! Thanks!
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she has been traveling frequently to Hawaii for the last 15 years and loves exploring every corner of each Hawaiian island, while trying to promote sustainable travel and small, local businesses along the way. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She has co-authored a guidebook with Fodor’s Travel and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.